The STIHL National Championship Air Races were saddened to learn this morning of the passing of R.A. “Bob” Hoover. An accomplished pilot himself with an air show career that spanned nearly 50 years, we were honored to have Bob join us in September at this year’s races.

Described as “the best stick and rudder man” who ever lived, Bob entertained in Reno for many years. Bob was a friend of NCAR from the beginning and served as a director of the Reno Air Racing Association.

Bob learned to fly at Nashville’s Berry Field and worked in a grocery store to earn money for flying lessons. After serving his county with the Tennessee National Guard, Bob was assigned to the Flight Test Division at Wright Field. In 1948, he became a test pilot for General Motors. Bob served as the backup and chase pilot to then-Captain Charles E. Yeager on the X-1 flights that led to the breaking of the sound barrier on October 17, 1947.

Bob flew more than 300 types of aircraft in his career. He was the first to fly the XFJ-2 Fury Jet and the T-28 trainer. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Soldier’s Medal, the Air Medal and the Purple Heart. In 1988, Bob was named to the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

Bob was an aviation pioneer, a hero and a great man.

We will miss his smile and we extend our condolences to his friends and family.